Monday, October 19, 2009

What a community we have. And a lesson.

Sunday evening started out as usual at our place. We had just sat down and cracked a beer with the intention of watching Sunday Night Football. It was around 5:30 and Graeme checked his twitter account when he found out that a friend of ours through the tri club had not returned from his morning run on the trails near his home. Mick is an awesome guy, and at 72 is probably still fitter then I am.

Jordan, the president of the club had put out a call for any able runners to come and join the search. As soon as Graeme sais Mick was missing, I said we had to go. We got dressed as quickly as possible and headed up to Mick's house which was being used as a headquarters. When we got there we were directed to the Gazebo in Lynn Headwaters where the North Shore Search & Rescue operation was being run, as well as where Natalie, the VP of the club, was signing in runners and organizing what trails were being searched.

Graeme and I don't know the trails that well, except for one area, which already had people on it. I figured being in a bigger group would be best, especially as none of us were experts on these sections of the trails. We ended up going in a group of 6 and heading east of the Baden Powell. By this time it was dark, but we all had flashlights and headlamps, and with 6 of us had a good amount of light. In is a very interesting experience to be in the middle of the woods in the pitch black. But I can say I never had any thoughts about my own safety. Both due to the number of and the people I was with, and because our focus was all on Mick.

We did a big loop, ending back at the headquarters. Just when we arrived we were told that voice contact had just been made and they thought the person was Mick. It turned out it was. We don't know the whole story of what happened yet, but he ended up getting stuck on the wrong side of Lynn Creek. North Shore Search & Rescue were able to walk him out later that night and he was home before 2am.

Mick is such a lucky guy. I said when we pulled up to his house that it was obvious he had a lot of friends. The street was lined with cars with hardly anywhere left to park. Everyone just wanted to be out there to try to help. Apparently there were over 100 people out on the trails last night looking. What a great community of runners and riders then North Shore has. As well as the amazing volunteers of North Shore Search & Rescue. I am so so glad that someone heard his voice. What an amazing story.

This brings me to the lesson. Be prepared! For those of us living near the trails and the mountains, I think we often take for granted that it really is the wilderness. Let someone know where you are going. If you live alone, at least leave a note saying what trail you are headed for. Carry a phone (not that there is service everywhere, but there is in some places), water, food, a whistle, and especially if you are planning on going any distance, a foil blanket. They take up no room, don't weigh anything, and will keep you warm in an emergency. I can't say I have followed all of these guidelines in the past, but I will be from now on.

This is really a reminder about how something as seemingly innocuous as a standard trail run, on well used trails can turn into something much, much more. How wonderful that this lesson comes with a happy ending.


Julie said...

I am covered in goosebumps reading this post for so many different reasons!

1. Thank GOD Mick was found!!
2. AMAZING community you have there -- I teared up reading how so many people showed up to help!
3. You are right -- things can quickly go south when we least expect it. Thanks for this reminder.

You guys are very lucky to be a part of such a special loving and caring community!! :) :) :)

jen said...

Wow. I'm so glad to hear he was found ok. The image of all those cars and people showing up to search for him made my throat tighten up. What a great group of people.

Great reminder to keep safety first and not take risks when we're out on the roads and trails. Be safe out there!

Runner Leana said...

I am so glad that Mick was found and is okay!! You definitely have a wonderful group. What a testament that people will drop everything to go look for him. How good to have a happy ending too!